I love maps and atlases.
When I was a kid, I could get lost in the Rand McNally Atlas’ pages. What was it like in the middle of Kansas or Nebraska? Where did state route 11 go?
I would imagine the people who lived in these (to me) exotic locales. Were they having a type of simple fun like catching fireflies in jars and picking blackberries in the woods, or were they living lives of domestic drudgery, clothespinning sheets on the line and handwashing dishes? Did they enjoy math and hate p.e.? Did they spend their summers working on the farm? Did they wonder about a person like me?
I suppose, growing up in the suburbs, that I spent more time imagining the life of those living in small towns somewhere in the south or midwest. Somewhere that was leafy and green during the summer and probably cold and even snowy in the winter. Definitely something different than my Southern California life!
So planning a trip allows me to indulge my map and atlas obsession (I wrote “fetish” but that’s just way creepier than I think it is). I take a day-glo highlighter and trace over I-10 from Los Angeles all the way to I-75 in Florida and then south to Ocala, which is somewhat north of The Villages.
Just to be clear, there is no specific place on my Florida atlas that says “The Villages”. It makes you think it is more of a state of mind than place, but that’s not true. My dad has a postal address of The Villages, Florida. What The Villages really is, though, is a huge amount of developed land that crosses three counties and encompasses many different communities of senior citizens. I think he said it’s the largest senior citizen community in the Untied States. Which I believe. You keep driving and run into varied village squares, state of the art medical facilities, and golf carts.
Ahh. The golf carts. Most garages have special places to park them (they are garages and a half); there are golf cart pathways snaking around and through the various villages; and you can decide to have a “mercedes” or “woody” golf cart to impress your friends and fellow carters. They are much more than just a way to get from the first to the 19th hole.
You would be excused if you begin to think they have the right of way over cars – because let’s face it, they do.
So this is where we are headed to. This state of mind and place where golf carts rule and you probably have to travel a ways to find a decent Starbucks. Where Dr. Pepper rules over Pepsi or Coca Cola and grits are a substitute for hashbrowns – always.
And where the early bird special is just called supper.